Sunday, 31 July 2016

winzer oder vitis vinifera

Over the weekend, H and I were treated to a tour of an award-winning vineyard and wine-tasting on the escarpment over the River Main outside of Volkach. This chalky cliff-face (Volkacher Mainschleife) winds around the river and produces an ideal micro-climate for the cultivation of grapes. The guide was quite funny and informative, teaching us about how the colour of a grape is not an indicator of the character of the end product and cultivars are only identifiable before they ripen by the shape of their leaves.
At another juncture before climbing further into the vineyards, the guide explained the origin and advantages of the distinctive canteen-shaped bottle of that region, called the Bocksbeutel—which folk-etymology suggests was named for its resemblance in shape to a ram’s (Bock) scrotum (Beutel, sack)—but was probably derived from the term for a book satchel that one could swing over his shoulder for easy transport, such containers also being the approximate size of a book in the hands and amenable to being carried in such a way.
Moreover, the design was easy to balance and would not roll away out of doors. Higher up and among the vines, we learnt about the vagaries of the weather and what impact that had on harvests and found out that the hedgerows used for wind-breaks were always rose-bushes, sometimes centuries old like the grapevines, because like the proverbial canary in a coal-mine, they were the first to show signs of disease and might also be a stop gap for the spread of pests. The local wines we sampled while on our hike were exquisite and a very pleasant reminder that there is a lot to explore close to home as well.